U: My name is Umaara Elliott and I live in Atlanta, but will be moving to NYC in 3 months.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
U: I decided to relax my hair in March of 2005 because I thought it would be convenient since I’m a dancer. The first year and a half I was relaxed was fine. My hair was healthy and full. My family swims a lot, so I spent the summer of 2007 continuously washing my hair three to four times a week. And after every wash, I would blow-dry and flat iron my hair. By the time the school year started, my shoulder-length hair had split ends all the way up to my ear. My once thick hair lacked body and movement. The only solution for me was to cut my hair into a bowl cut. I felt like a little Asian baby for a little over two years, so summer of 2009 was when I decided that I would just grow my hair out and stop getting relaxers. My whole thing was that it was pointless for me to have to keep cutting or trimming my hair every time it grew back when I would go to the salon. I have been fully natural now since May 2010, but started transitioning in July of 2009.
How would you describe your texture?
U: My hair is a whole mixture of textures, but I guess I would say it’s a mixture of 3c, 4a, and 4b. The back of my hair is where the looser curls are and the top (middle) tends to be where my hair is poofy and the curls don’t have much definition. I have a mixture of fairly coarse curls and fine ones.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
U: Honestly, I’m actually really lazy with my hair. Being that I dance about 6 days out of the week, I don’t wear my hair out as much. When I do wear my hair out, I sometimes will do a braid out if I want my curls to be defined, and that happens maybe like once a week. I like Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Cantu Coconut Curling Cream, and Eco-Styler Gel.
What does wash day look like for you?
U: I do the shampoo, condition, and repeat regime because my hair obtains so much dirt and product build-up throughout the week from dancing. Some products I like to use and switch up are Shea Moisture’s Black Soap Shampoo, Yes To Carrots Conditioner, and Aussie Moist shampoo and conditioners.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
U: My favorite go-to style is a top knot/bun. It’s super convenient and I sometimes like to deep condition while wearing the style.
How do you combat shrinkage?
U: I like to pull my hair back in a low bun or ponytail and let it air dry before styling. Some parts of my hair shrink way more than others so I like for all more my hair to be equally stretched.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
U: My hair is easily prone to breakage, especially the ends. It has always been a problem for me before I got a relaxer, while I had a relaxer, and even now. So while styling, I like to seal my ends to make sure they have a lot of moisture. My hair is also really dry, so I deep condition pretty much every time I wash my hair.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
U: Protective styling is always great because my hair texture involves a lot of maintenance and my hands don’t need to be in my hair all of the time. Also, always, always, always use a leave-in conditioner or some kind of moisturizer before styling.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
U: Never comb or detangle your hair when it’s dry. It’s just like asking for breakage and knots. I also suggest avoiding products with sulfate. Now, I’m going to admit that I do want my scalp and hair squeaky clean sometimes, but since I have fairly dry hair, using a shampoo with sulfate would just strip my hair of its natural moisture and make it even more dry.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
U: I have a Tumblr, which is umaaraiynaas.tumblr.com. You can also find me on Instagram @umaaraiynaas.